The Difference: Prototype vs MVP

We all know that every product goes through five key conceptual stages:

  1. Finding and planning the right opportunity

  2. Designing the solution

  3. Building the solution

  4. Sharing the solution

  5. Assessing the solution

Prototypes and Minimum Viable Products (MVP) are a critical part of intial product development cycle. Sure, you could dive right in, spend months developing an expensive product with all the bells and whistles…only to find that at launch, nobody wants it.

How do you differentiate between a prototype and an MVP? :thinking:

While in theory MVPs and prototypes seem like the same thing, and both are part of agile product development, there are a few key differences.

Breaking it down simply, the main differences are:

  • Scope
  • Commitment
  • Audience

A prototype is something that you can put very little time and effort into. The idea is to come up with a variety of prototypes and be able to change, adapt, and throw away ideas quickly.

With an MVP, you’ve picked an idea and you’re rolling with it, which means putting in a little more effort. You’re likely to use more resources and have more people involved.

Because of the difference in scope, your commitment level is also different. Once you’ve invested time and resources into an MVP, you’re less likely to completely scrap it. While the whole concept of MVP is based on the ability to be cost-effective and make rapid changes.

With a prototype, it can be as easy as crumpling up the paper and starting again! Although more complex prototypes certainly take up more resources, you’re still less tied to them than you are to a fully realized MVP.

Your prototypes and your MVPs will also be intended for different audiences. Prototypes are mostly internal. Mainly intended for your teams or others in your company. At most, you’ll give them to the press to create a bit of buzz, or use them for crowdfunding purposes. But they’re not intended for your target market or users to observe.

Your MVP, on the other hand, is intended to be launched to the target market in order to assess its reception. An MVP is something that the public will be testing, which leaves an impression and helps you identify key iterations for your V2.

Now that we’ve cleared that out of the way, PMs use different approaches to building their prototypes and MVPs. How do you build your Prototypes or MVPs? Do you follow any particular framework? Do you have a go-to tool? What are some tips that you use that make socializing either?

Eager to hear some tips :eyes:

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